Prenatal Yoga: Pregnancy Safe Positions & Benefits
What is yoga for pregnant women? At what age is it possible to do it, and what are its benefits for the mother and the future baby? What exercises can pregnant women do? Let's find out these questions together.
For many women who practice yoga, when they become pregnant, the question arises - is it possible to practice yoga during pregnancy? And what asanas can be practiced so as not to harm yourself and the unborn child?
We should say at once that everything is individual. And if you've never practiced yoga before pregnancy, then you should not rush into a fierce battle at any stage. All the more so because yoga, itself, has many varieties. And not necessarily related to physical exertion on the body. For example, meditation can help a pregnant mother find emotional contact with her baby, and pranayama (breathing practices) can help calm the mind. And all of this also applies to yoga and does not require a woman to have any particular sports records.
As for yoga as physical exercises, a specific set of practices (asanas) for each pregnancy period (trimester) will help a pregnant woman maintain and improve the elasticity of muscles and joint mobility and generally improve her well-being. Even some doctors recommend gentle yoga practice.
Can pregnant women do yoga?
"Pregnant women can and should do yoga!
Exercise will help maintain muscle elasticity and joint mobility, relieve lower back pain associated with increased load on the spine, strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
In addition, during classes, you will learn how to work with breathing, listen to your body, timely respond to changes in it, to prepare for childbirth, not only physically but also psychologically.
When should pregnant women start practicing yoga?
"If you have been practicing yoga for a long time, with the onset of pregnancy, you can continue your usual practice, making it more gentle. It's worth excluding deep twists, asanas where the abdominal muscles and cortex muscles are actively engaged, and intensive pranayamas. For the rest, you should be guided by your feelings.
If you haven't practiced yoga before, try to start as early as possible. With the onset of pregnancy, the body becomes less mobile and active. The longer you put off the practice, the harder it will be for you to start."
Asanas for pregnant women
A woman's body has different tasks during pregnancy, so the sets of asanas for each trimester will be different.
A woman's body is being rebuilt, her hormones are changing, the position of organs inside the abdomen is changing, and the balance of body fluids is changing. Often the beginning of pregnancy is complicated by toxemia, general weakness, sleepiness, changes in temperature background.
Therefore, the practice at the beginning of pregnancy should be incredibly gentle.
You can start with a warming-up complex with elements of joint exercises.
During simple exercises, try to combine breathing and movement, listen to your body, lower your breath down your abdomen, make it softer, more profound.
Relaxing asanas aimed at stretching, relieving tension, keeping the spine's flexibility, increasing mobility of hip joints, and stretching leg muscles are well suited for the first trimester.
It is also recommended to practice inverted asanas - postures with your legs and stomach above your head. Such stances decrease swelling, remove tiredness from the legs, stimulate lymph flow. In later terms, performing inverted poses allows the baby to position itself correctly in the womb.
Sarvangasana is suitable for experienced practitioners, but for beginners, the best option is the Viparita Karani pose, the inverted seal pose. There is also a classic and simplified version of performing this pose, with the feet resting freely on the wall.
In the second trimester, a woman's body is already much more adapted to body changes: her health improves, hormones level off, her belly is not yet huge, and she feels lightness and a burst of energy in her body.
You can start practicing light vinyasa from dog face down and on all fours, standing postures, and simple balances (Trikonasana and balance).
Particular attention should be paid to poses that stretch the back of the thighs (bent leg bend, shoulder width, jhana Shirshasana, a light version of prasarita padottanasana) and poses for loosening the hip joints and lumbar extension.
In the third trimester, the volume and weight of the abdomen increase, which significantly stresses the lower back. And the complex of exercises should be primarily aimed at reducing the load and relaxing the back muscles.
Try to do most of the exercises in the position of the four (complex on all fours and cow-cat). It is more stable and helps relieve the back, and helps the baby take the correct position - head down facing the lower back.
In the third trimester, you can use asanas that engage the lower abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
Is suitable for that, you can also do it with a short hold on the lower lock - Mula bandha - when the intimate muscles, sphincter muscles, and perineum muscles are contracted and held.
For proper fetal positioning for labor, also remember to complete the practice with an inverted pose.
Pay attention to your breathing. Ujjayi breathing will help you concentrate on your body and cope with pain syndrome.
In labor, full yogic breathing, and anuloma-viloma breathing will help calm the mind and normalize blood pressure.
Benefits of yoga for pregnant women
We have already written above about several aspects of the benefits of yoga for pregnant women. Let's break down these benefits point by point:
- Yoga improves the physical condition of expectant mothers. In particular, it is stretching exercises during pregnancy help to avoid some tears during labor. And it allows a woman to maintain muscle elasticity throughout the pregnancy, which means the mom-to-be will get back in shape faster after delivery.
- Psychological support for expectant mothers. Every woman in this period of life has fears and worries and just insecurity. Yoga classes help you think and calmly consider all your fears and uncertainties, calm your mind, and find contact with yourself. And also, find sympathy and understanding in the company of other expectant mothers, especially if you are practicing in a group.
- Not only stretching exercises are helpful. Working with breathing, the ability to breathe correctly is beneficial for expectant mothers during childbirth. So, don't miss pranayama classes for pregnant women. They are perfect for both moms and babies.
- Practicing yoga increases your mood and stamina and relieves emotional fatigue. Keeping the habit of doing yoga during pregnancy and after the baby's birth will stabilize your dynamic background and reduce your emotional swings caused by hormones. And a good mood, thanks to yoga classes, will be a bonus for you!
The harm of yoga for pregnant women
There is no harm as such, but there are some contraindications:
In yoga for pregnant women, the primary condition is increased attention to the body. If any asana is uncomfortable to perform, it is better not to do it, avoid deep twists, asanas involving tension of abs and abdomen muscles, avoid deep bends (especially to straight legs), asanas aimed at internal organs massage, intensive pranayama.
Perform all postures usually performed with your feet together, with your feet shoulder-width apart (utkatasana).
Avoid abdominal postures and deep backward bends from the very beginning of pregnancy.
We've covered the main helpful asanas for pregnant women. So do not be afraid to practice and remember, starting yoga is not only never too late but also very useful, especially in the situation described above in this article. And may the power of yoga come to you!
Please share your experience of yoga practice during pregnancy with us in the comments! What asanas are you practicing, or have you been practicing? What kind of mood were you in when you were doing it? Let's discuss it together.